A substance use disorder (SUD) impacts the entire family system, which is why addiction is sometimes referred to as a “family disease.” Unknowingly, family members often take on any one of a number of new roles as a way to cope with and compensate for the addiction. The resulting “homeostasis” can be fraught with dysfunction that, if left untreated, may impede a client’s long-term recovery.
Beach House’s family program helps families and clients identify and begin to repair these unhealthy dynamics, by addressing addiction within the context of the family system. This section will familiarize you with the key components and objectives of the family program, including the research that supports why we make this offering available to families.
Evidence-Based Components and Objectives
Research says that family support and involvement are critical to successful long-term recovery (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2004). Some of the same findings have revealed certain evidence-based components to be effective family-based interventions for addiction. Our family program integrates these components in a three-day, educational and therapeutic, immersive experience that typically takes place over a long weekend.
The experience is: supervised and facilitated by a licensed marriage and family therapist; geared primarily for families of clients currently in treatment; and offered on a once-monthly rotation, so that prior to their loved one’s discharge from treatment, families have an opportunity to learn about their loved one’s treatment goals and how to better support their loved one’s recovery in life after rehab.
Prior to the workshop, the family program coordinator, a licensed marriage and family therapist, reaches out to the family by phone, in order to learn their goals for the workshop. Together with their loved one, participating families then receive group and individual therapy that helps them move towards these goals, in the direction of processing and repairing any key underlying issues. These therapy sessions involve the client’s primary therapist and are overseen by the family program coordinator.
By the end of the workshop, participants will have gained:
- A better understanding of the disease of addiction, its biology and pathology and how it impacts family roles and dynamics
- Familiarity with their loved one’s treatment goals and concrete ways they can support their loved one in early recovery
- Healthier interpersonal and communication skills
- Firsthand exposure to and engagement with the various 12-step family support groups available to them
Following the workshop, weekly phone calls from a therapist are another key component of the family program. This regular follow-up (throughout the client’s course of treatment) ensures that families have the ongoing support they need to enact positive core changes, continue with the healing they have begun, and be fully prepared for their loved one’s reintegration into the family after their discharge.
How Our Family Program Supports Better Recovery Outcomes
The scientific literature is clear: family support and involvement improve recovery outcomes for clients in SUD treatment, by improving the effectiveness of treatment, decreasing problems associated with addiction, increasing motivation for treatment, boosting treatment engagement and retention, and lowering risks of relapse (Cole, 2015). Moreover, 12-step group participation can be as critical for the family’s recovery as it is for the client’s recovery, based on findings into the mechanisms of positive core change that define 12-step groups. These include: a common emotional bond; the structure and sense of goal directedness in these groups; clear, common behavioral norms for how to work towards abstinence; a social outlet for engaging in non-substance-related activities; and the development of greater self-efficacy and better coping skills (Donovan, Ingalsbe, Benbow, and Daley, 2013).
By encouraging and optimizing family engagement and support, our family program thus gives clients and their families a firm, evidence-based foothold in recovery that has the potential to have a lasting positive impact across a lifetime.